Chapter One - Grandpa's Visitors
Above the bush, the pink and orange streaked sky had faded to grey.
Inside, it was almost dark and Grandpa, in his chair beneath the rooms
only window, caught the last of the light. He sat completely still,
smiling at our confusion.
His whisper had silenced the
conversation. Look whos joining us for drinks, he had said. But
nothing had moved. The door remained closed, the cat curled peacefully
on the sofa. No new sounds interrupted the soft ring of chirps, rustles
and faraway hunting barks.
We waited for an explanation and he
gave none. His gaze alternated between us and the ceiling, his body
remained still. One hand clutched a small glass, full with an equal
mixture of red wine and grape juice; the other lay on the armrest, long
fingers digging into the worn velvet covers.
Then a flicker near the ceiling and a shadowy creature plunged out of the gloom...
Chapter Four - Ngaka and MmaNgaka
Ngaka. Doctor. Magic word, in Botswana. Even Mum had a special name. MmaNgaka: wife of the doctor hotline to Dad, which could be inconvenient for Mum.
said Mum, smiling at the thin man standing behind her in the queue. She
turned quickly back to face the till and murmured something to the
three of us who sat sprawled on the floor, immobilised by boredom and
The line in the stuffy little hardware store was
stationary. Four or five people waited in front of us. Behind us, the
tail of the queue rounded the end of the nail, screw and bolt isle. No
one was going anywhere and a discussion about ailments, should it
start, would be inescapable. So Mum made a point of looking busy with
her children, of being unusually sympathetic to our whingeing.
We had popped in, after the weekly grocery shop in Phikwe for a few
odds and ends: sandpaper, paint, glue, drill bits. Now, half an hour
later, the already wilted Spar lettuce would be slimy brown on the
outside and the milk would be curdling in the boot...